Travel Tip – Flying With Your Bike
9 years, 5 months ago Posted in: Blog 0
Getting out of paying airline bike fees is something I’ve been trying to tackle since day one in the sport. United’s bike fees are $175 Domestic each way and $200 international…$250 if you’re flying to Asia! The hard case with bike stickers are a dead give away.
One thing about the softcase is your bike has a higher chances of getting damaged. Most airlines won’t replace the bike if it is damaged, so getting out of paying that hefty fee is worth it in the long run.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to deal with this delema:

One thing I would add is making sure you have some sort of brace in the rear drop outs (where you insert the rear wheel). This helps prevent the rear forks from bending inwards.

Also, with this specific softcase (pictured below), I’ve inserted fluted polypropylene panels on the outside of the wheels to protect from any direct impact. I’ve had spokes broken before is this is one way to combat that issue. The panels are very light weight so it doesn’t add much weight to the case. You can just pick it up at a specialty plastic store. It’s the kind of store that would also make signs to stick in your front yard.

The biggest help to getting out of paying for bike fees is continually flying on one alliance. United is part of Star Alliance so I get frequent flyer miles to all my big races (Lufthansa, South African Airways, Air New Zealand, and many more). Once you reach Gold Status, your chances of getting out of a bike fee are much higher since the baggage rules are slightly different from regular passengers and are more lenient to the amount of checked bags and weight. The agent at the ticket counter might have that slim chance of interpreting that Gold Status members or higher don’t have to pay bike fees.

I’m about to go to the airport right now with my bike in a softcase. Racing in Kitzbuhel, Austria on Saturday. Check out for live coverage of the event.


Originally posted on

Blue bike packedBy Blue Competition Cycles

Flying to a race with a bike has never been an easy prospect, but recently things seemed to have become tougher and more expensive than ever. Airlines have declared war on anyone traveling with their bike by charging excess weight and baggage fees that can sometimes exceed the price of your ticket.

Experienced racers have learned that flying with your bike packed in a soft-sided bag is your best shot at avoiding some of these outrageous fees. Soft cases are smaller and much lighter than the traditional hard shell case, giving you a better shot at getting checked-in without having to fork over large sums of cash.

Regardless of which case you decide to use going to your next event, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on packing your bike to help insure it arrives unscathed. Additionally, here are some tips from the pros on how to get your bike to the races as safely and cheaply as possible:

“I like to go to Home Depot and buy two of the 6 foot long foam insulation tubes used for 1-inch hot water pipes, cut them to match the length of each tube, fork blade, seat stay, and chain stay, and zip tie them into place for extra protection without adding weight.”
— Tina Pic (Five-time National Criterium Champion)

“I shift the chain into the big ring so that the chain covers the teeth, protecting it from potential damage. I use zip ties to hold the chain into place on the big chain ring so it doesn’t slip off during shipping.”
— Brent McMahon (Canadian National Champion, New Orleans 70.3 Champion, Two-time XTERRA World Championships 3rd place)

“I like to keep my packed bag lightweight so that I do not have to pay overweight luggage fees at the airport. I accomplish this by not packing any extra gear into the bag with the bike. I always carry my shoes and helmet separately in a carry-on bag.”
— Andreas Raelert (Two-time Olympian, IM Arizona Champion, 2nd place 70.3 World Championships)

“If I am traveling with two bicycles, I can remove the wheels and pack both bicycles into one bag and carry all the wheels separately in my wheel bags. You can save a lot of money flying this way”
— Laura Van Gilder (US National Cyclocross team member and NRC Road Champion)

“I find it useful to carry a small bottle of degreaser, a wiping rag, a set of Allen keys, and a package of 50 zip ties with me when I travel with my bike.”
— Sarah Haskins (U.S. National Triathlon Champion, Member of 2008 US Olympic Triathlon Team)

“To avoid questions about what is inside the bag, I try to look as inconspicuous as possible. Fortunately, my case is discrete looking. If I walk into the airport with a ‘Bound for Paris Roubaix’ shirt, a helmet strapped to my bike bag, and shoes sticking out of my backpack, I’m a lot more likely to be charged an oversized luggage fee.”
— Heather Wurtele (IM Coeur d’Alene Champion, 3rd place IM Canada)

“I am a tall guy and ride one of the largest bikes. When packing my bike, I remove the front brake caliper from the fork, remove the fork, and put the fork into one of the inside pockets. This allows me to tilt the bike forward so that the seat mast does not stick up too high.”
— Trevor Wurtele (Top 15 IM Arizona, 6th IM Coeur d’Alene)

Blue Competition Cycles is a gold partner of USA Triathlon. Visit the Blue Competition Cycles website at

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